Turner Classic Movies
All the King's Men 1949 vs All the King's Men 2006
Written by Diana Saenger   

Making a movie and attaining a successful box office is a difficult challenge. If the movie is a remake, such as the new All The King's Men, originally made in 1949, the stakes rise. Several factors enter into the equation. Most critics have usually seen the original film, so they have a rich basis in which to compare them. So how do the 1949 and 2006 films compare? Check out this Q & A.

Q. What's the most noticeable difference in the two movies?

A. Most noticeably is the era. All The King's Men (1949) was set in the early 1940s while the new film was set in the 1950s and 10 years makes a big difference in looks and attitude.

Q. What's very much the same?

A. The alcohol - both Willie and Jack become serious alcoholics.

Willie's meanness - to those he hates and those he's supposed to love.

Q. How does the cinematography compare?

A. Burnett Guffey (The Gallant Blade, From Here to Eternity) has an incredible eye for detail and every visual in All The King's Men (1949) sets the theme and the era perfectly. Likewise for the new picture's cinematography by Pawel Edelman (The Pianist). Both men excel at their work.

Q. Does color make a difference?

A. I must say the color in the new movie is nice. And some of the more advanced filmmaking techniques add extra value to the new edition. But the black and white version also works in that it sets the mood and tone of the film more effectively.

Q. How do the films compare to the novel?

A. I have not read the novel but the stories are very similar. There are minor differences. One that stands out in my mind is that Willie's son Tom, has a far more pronounced part in the original, and I think it's a valuable inclusion in the story that details what kind of a man Willie really is.

Q. How do Sean Penn and Broderick Crawford measure up?

Sean Penn Columbia Pictures

A. Both actors are terrific. They're powerful, virile and convincing. Broderick always seems to be a steam-roller character, and it works perfectly in the original movie. As I mention in my review of the new film, I feel Penn is a little over the top, but he's one of the few actors who can get away with that.

Broderick Crawford, John Ireland & Mercedes McCambridge A.M.P.A.S

Q. How do the Sadie actresses compare?

A. I think I preferred Mercedes McCambridge's portrayal over Patricia Clarkson's. McCambridge seems to infuse Sadie with a more of the vim and vigor the role calls for, while Clarkson's role teeters more on the whinny side.

Q. Is there much difference in the two Tiny's?

A. Yes. In the original film Ralph Dumke is pretty much a back-of-the-scene guy with little dialogue or input. In the new movie James Gandolfini is hard to miss. Not only is he big, be brings his TV Soprono mobster personality along with him. It should work in this scenario but for some reason seems to miss.

Bottom Line

So which film is best? Maybe the one you see first. My advice is to see both. Rent the original and see it before the new one if you can. Then you can make your own comparison.



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